The best perfumes of 2020
Yes, the 2020 perfume year was a busy one, despite all the difficulties and obstacles. The industry has been hit by epidemics, lockdowns, disrupted global trade and transport links. It is inevitable that the industry will change and learn to operate in a new environment, but we will see the results of the changes next year. In the meantime, let's try and discuss the launches that have reached the shops or with the help of the valiant mail, planned back in the safe and cheerful times.
A lot of good has come out. In every niche and price category, there are brilliant finds, no one-offs, truly talented perfumers and creative teams, so the best perfume of 2020 will be named in more ways than one.
La Belle Season Houbigant. Delight! A magical breeze, a floral swirl, a young and fresh perfume with good genes for connoisseurs of perfume history. A very precise shot by Céline Ellen and Jean-Lucy Perris, carefully creating a new history for one of the oldest perfume brands.
Mandarino Laboratorio Olfattivo - A breakthrough! An example of how an entire costume party with perfumed ladies, gallant gentlemen, dancing and the finest alcohol can be hidden behind a simple, seemingly mono fragrance. So much life and bright colours have never been in the compositions of Laboratorio Olfattivo. I hope the brand's collaboration with Jean-Claude Ellena will continue. It is a pleasure to see and smell what they create together.
Rouge Comme des Garcons Parfums is the long awaited sexiest perfume with the scent of cold beetroot borscht with ice, fresh hogweed, frankincense and truffles. A hooligan and unusually comforting fragrance that sounds modern and, at the same time, very Garçon-like.
Panthere Le Parfum Cartier. Gentle and thoroughbred apricot chypre. I have already written, when I first tried it, that I felt in Panthere a new, animalistic and complex chypre base instead of patchoulian sourness, already boring from the beginning of zero years. So there is an understanding, there are materials with which to create truly beautiful contemporary chyps, and Panthere is the first of them.
Collection of the year.
In the niche it is of course The Liquors by Kilian, reconciling both the smart and the beautiful. The new bottles are good, the theme is right, and the cognac and tobacco sweet Angels' Share has almost everyone falling in love, regardless of age, gender or olfactory experience.
The best collection among the boutique heavy luxe ranges is Les Eaux Armani Prive. All the transparent watercolours came out well, but especially the novelty of 2020, the spring and fresh Jasmin Kusamono.
Massmarket also has a successful collection, Color Feeling Brocard. Bright, photogenic bottles plus fragrances whose perception is really influenced by colour. My favourite is Bertrand Duchaufourt's Toffee and Pepper Orange.
The theme of the year is the transformation of gourmet fragrances from simple sugary sweetness to something deep and complex that is a joy to wear and fascinating to explore. Perfumers are dissecting tobacco, wine, cognac and cocktail flavours, all exotic fruits and spices. I'll note here S'il Vous Play Francesca dell'Oro, a bitter resinous vanilla and the spicy spirit of baked gingerbread. The holiday is coming to us.
Bitter Peach Tom Ford Scandal of the Year, about which no two people have the same opinion. Sounds young, sassy and uplifting to me. Exactly what (rather than notes, pyramids, sex and status) normal people look for in a perfume.
Parfums Dusita's Moonlight in Chiangmai, a warm, woody, finally understandable fragrance, and Illuminea Mary Kay, which is trendy, creamy and innovative for its segment, win in the perfume for normal people category.
The best perfume in the suite (and here I'm biased) is Love Chopard. Too good for its price and probably too complex. But you won't find sweet roses with amber and golden saffron anywhere else.
The best flankers are Libre Intense and Coco Mademoiselle L'Eau Privée. Both sound more interesting than the originals. Libre Intense is deeper and spicier, while L'Eau Privée is recognisable but more modern.
Best perfume stylisation: the powerful vintage chypre Pogia Tiziana Terenzi and the "daddy" Beau du Jour Tom Ford and Pasha parfum Cartier, which will suit those who know about those times from the James Franco series.
The format of the year is travel. And the most successful implementation - 15 ml. bottles in leather and with beautiful illustrations by Roberto Greco on the boxes by Olfactive Studio.
Project of the year - Dolce q.b. Adjiumi - the launch of its own perfume by an Italian perfumery group. The perfume is controversial and complex, but I bow to the authors.
Purchase of the year Fol Arôme Guerlain - a frighteningly expensive restored vintage perfume sourced in Paris. It is to be hoped that such a release is not a one-off promotion. That in the future it will be possible to buy at least some Guerlain classics.
What next? Those who manage to adapt to new formats of commerce and communication with the user will survive. There will be less money and less effort for ventures, more attention to packaging and descriptions. If people choose perfumes without easy access to boutiques and testers because of widespread restrictions, they will choose with their eyes.
Brands unable to come up with handy mini-formats and samplers will die out.
The French, who can't fill out customs declarations on parcels and put a phone number on them, will be the first to die out.
An invasion of body-oriented, light, natural smells and scents for their own pleasure and mood awaits us.
Everyone with any sense has started thinking about fragrance lines for the home - diffusers, candles. Next autumn, as far as I know, such a line will be released by Kilian, and those who were already strong on the subject will turn out even more. Life goes on.